Monday, February 07, 2005

Next Year in Jerusalem

A glimmer of hope came from the Middle East today, when senior officials of both the Israeli and Palestinian governments said an announcement of a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should be made tomorrow.
(Raanan) Gissin (adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) said Palestinians will declare an end to "violence, terrorism and incitement" against Israel.

In return, Gissin said, Israel will refrain from military action "to the extent that the Palestinians will fulfill their pledges and their commitments."

"It will be their responsibility to stop terrorists," Gissin said. "To the extent that will be fulfilled, we can move forward."

Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erakat said Israeli and Palestinian officials agreed to revive committees set up to deal with prisoners, the redeployment of troops, Palestinian fugitives and deportees.

And so the saga continues.....the Palestinian intifada, touched off as Yasser Arafat's response to Ariel Sharon's political visit, meant as a campaign counterbalance to that of Ehud Barak.

This is one of those moments where you can only shake your head. Thousands dead, the Palestinian Authority in economic ruin....all because two men decided to make issue of a disputed location. I know the logic for both -- national pride, religious belief, all that -- but all I can do at this point is say.....was it worth it?

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice states correctly when she says that this is a "new day" for the Palestinian Authority and that the Arab world needs to take more financial responsibility for resolving a crisis that perpetually powers their most militant members. Let's hope that this is truly the end of the violence -- and the beginning of the reconciliation.

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